Grace Food Ministries (GFM) – Sunday Lunch Program
“It reflects my core values of servant leadership to honor the dignity and worth of each individual and to support their unique creative power to lead ‘with’ rather than ‘over.’”
The mission of Grace Food Ministries is to provide assistance in the form of a meal to feed insecure individuals and families of our community in a safe and non judgmental environment.
“I value the unselfish nature of our parish. The love of one another as a Church and the openness to seek.”
History of Sunday Lunch
Sunday Lunch has been operating since 2004 in various forms. It began in response to a plea from the Salvation Army to use our facility for their daily (M-F) lunch program while their kitchen was undergoing repairs. Volunteers from Grace helped to serve the lunch. The parishioners enjoyed the experience where they saw first hand the faces of hungry people in our community. They also learned that folks not living in the Shelter were in need of food on the weekends. Consequently, in 2005, Grace along with 7 other community churches initiated a Sunday Lunch program to meet this need. A hot, cafeteria style meal was prepared by Grace volunteers, and the food was served by volunteers from our community churches.
The first Coordinator of the lunch program was Chris Hodges. She was the driving force that made Sunday Lunch what it is today, and worked tirelessly for 4 ½ years. After Chris took a break from the program, David Sink then took on the Coordinator position.
In 2012 members of Grace attended a conference at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church sponsored by the North Carolina Council of Churches. The theme was “Come to the Table” and the content centered on ways to provide food for hungry people in the community. At this meeting the attendees from Grace were introduced to the Second Harvest Food Bank and the work they do in the northwest part of our state. As our increasing numbers for Sunday Lunch were straining the budget allocated for the program, we explored the possibility of obtaining food from Second Harvest.
Under Rev. Tom King, then pastor of Grace, we partnered with Second Harvest in October 2012. This partnership greatly reduced our cost as we received meals prepared by their chefs training program as well as other items like canned food, pasta, rice and other staples.
At that time we also opened a food Pantry that ran in conjunction with our feeding program. These two programs continued working side by side until June of 2019, when our numbers grew to beyond 130 clients every Sunday, which maxed out our space in the Undercroft. The programs both closed to reorganize in June 2019, reopening in October 2019 with only Sunday Lunch.
Upon reopening, Sunday Lunch organized 4 separate teams with a rotating schedule to cook meals. We have grown and now have 6 teams working to prepare and cook meals. Although our numbers have dropped from a high of 130+ people, we now average 80 meals per Sunday, which shows the continuing need to assist the homeless and food insecure in our community.
The third Coordinator, Marlene Jones, took over in April of 2013, not long after the Partnership with Second Harvest started, and continues in that role today with the assistance of Mary Matthews and Neca Johnson.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we had to quickly transition from a sit-down meal on Sunday March 8, to a take-out meal the following Sunday. We also had to continue serving a hot meal, but with fewer volunteers, to make sure we are following safety guidelines instituted by the CDC and our own Diocese.